Visual performance based exclusively on high luminance and high contrast letter acuity measures often fails to predict individual performance at low contrast and low luminance. Here we measured visual acuity over a wide range of contrasts and luminances (low mesopic to photopic) for 17 young normal observers. Acuity vs. contrast functions appear to fit a single template which can be displaced laterally along the log contrast axis. The magnitude of this lateral displacement for different luminances was well predicted by the contrast threshold difference for a 4 min arc spot. The acuity vs. contrast template, taken from the mean of all 17 subjects, was used in conjunction with individual spot contrast threshold measures to predict an individual's visual acuity over a wide range of luminance and contrast levels. The accuracy of the visual acuity predictions from this simple procedure closely approximates test-retest accuracy for both positive (projected Landolt rings) and negative contrast (Bailey- Lovie charts).
(C) 1990 American Academy of Optometry